History of the Abbey
he first written mention of the “regula sancti Augustini“ (Rule of St. Augustin).in official documents dates back to the reign of Pope Urban II. (1088 -1099). Generally speaking the Augustinian Canons Regular (“regular” deriving from the Latin “regula” or “rule”) have existed as an order since the early 12th century.
The Augustinian Canons Regular monastery of Neustift was founded by the Bishop of Brixen, the Blessed Hartmann, in 1142 at the meeting point of two important transit and pilgrimage routes, one coming from the Brenner Pass, the other from the Pustertal valley.
The main duties of the Augustinian Canons Regular include the ministration of the solemn liturgy, the common saying of the Divine Office and above all parish pastoral work. Today the Neustift Canons Regular carry out pastoral work in 22 parishes.
Since its inception the monastery was a hospice providing pilgrims with a place to rest on their journey to Rome or the Holy Land. At the same time the monastery developed into an important centre in Europe’s spiritual life, for their monastery school and their interest in science and art made the Canons Regular prominent custodians of culture. Today the voluminous monastery library and the extensive educational activities including the boarding school and further education centre bear witness to this.
The monastery complex is the largest in Tyrol and is extremely well preserved. A visit takes the form of a walk through the most important epochs in the history of art. The Gothic, Baroque and Rococo architectural periods have all left their marks.
The monastery’s considerable estates have ensured that it was and remains to a large extent economically independent. Today it still owns woodland, fields and vineyards as well as its own power generator and winery. The newly restored monastery garden is especially worth visiting.
Visitors can gain fascinating insight into the exciting and eventful history of the monastery on a guided tour of the collegiate church, cloister, pinacotheca and library. Since summer 2008 the monastery has been enriched with its newly laid-out and traffic-free square at the entrance. The monastery wine cellars are also located here, where the superb wines from the Neustift estate vineyards can be savoured together with a typical South Tyrolean platter of cold cuts and cheese.